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Tayari Jones

Author of An American Marriage

13+ Works 5,858 Members 367 Reviews 7 Favorited

About the Author

Tayari Jones was born on November 30, 1970 in Atlanta Georgia. She attended Spelman College, University of Iowa, and the University of Georgia. She later attended Arizonia State University to earn her MFA. She went on to teach creative writing at the University of Illinois and George Washington show more University. Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, was written in 2002 while she was a graduate student at Arizonia State University. It was about the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-1981.Her other title's include: The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage. She has been awarded the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction, the Lillian Smith Book Award, and the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

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Works by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage (2018) 3,967 copies
Silver Sparrow (2011) 1,149 copies
Leaving Atlanta (2005) 375 copies
The Untelling (2005) 274 copies
Atlanta Noir (2017) — Editor — 60 copies
Half Light (2022) 14 copies
Dispossession (2021) 13 copies

Associated Works

Meridian (1976) — Introduction, some editions — 1,303 copies
The Street (1946) — Introduction, some editions — 1,192 copies
McSweeney's Issue 28 (McSweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2008) — Contributor — 170 copies
Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing (2002) — Contributor — 124 copies
Read Hard: Five Years of Great Writing from the Believer (2009) — Contributor — 79 copies
Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights (2019) — Foreword, some editions — 78 copies
Neighbors and Other Stories (2024) — Introduction, some editions; Introduction, some editions — 68 copies
New Stories from the South 2009: The Year's Best (2009) — Contributor — 39 copies
New Stories from the South 2004: The Year's Best (2004) — Contributor — 33 copies
A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors (2015) — Contributor — 12 copies


Common Knowledge



An American Marriage by Tayari Jones was a fine book. Sweeping in its scope, the book tells the story of Celestial and Roy. They are southern, black, well-educated, hard-working, and prosperous. They have risen above their ancestry of sharecropping and poverty and are proud of where they are going, or would be if it were not for their marriage problems. Roy is what he likes to call "a ladies man", which is a polite way of saying he cheats on Celestial. Their arguments have begun to include talk of divorce, but Roy knows exactly how to charm his way back into his scorned wife's affections.

Then it happens. An elderly woman is raped, and she points the finger at Roy. The eye of the court looks discriminately at black defendants, and packs him off to prison for twelve years. Roy's life and his marriage dissolve like salt in a glass of Roy's mama's iced tea.

An American Marriage was a gripping read. It was - to my delight - epistolary for part of the book. Roy and Celestial and Andre, the other side of this triangle, are so keenly drawn that you can see their faces, hear their voices, know their hearts.

And yet.

I didn't like the way the book ended, and that's all I'm going to say about that for fear of spoilers. I didn't like the fact that I couldn't understand all the imagery. There was something important about a pear Roy once ate in prison, but I could never figure it out, although the image recurred throughout the novel. And this part pains me - I don't think I could ever comprehend the book fully because the book is about black American families and black American lives, and I fit in neither of those categories. Because of that, some parts of the book that might be plain to others are lost to this WASP-y lady in Canada.

However much I did and didn't understand, this was a masterful novel, and I am really glad to have read it and been privileged to meet the people within its pages.
… (more)
ahef1963 | 256 other reviews | May 9, 2024 |
Celestial and Roy have been married a year when he is wrongfully imprisoned. This is a story of a marriage gradually, almost imperceptibly falling apart. It leads to many questions. Could this have happened to a white couple? How strong was their marriage anyway? How well did they know one another prior to their wedding? The story is told through the devices of their letters to each other while Roy is incarcerated and then, later as the story develops, by devoting chapters to the events that unfold from the standpoint of each of the principal characters. Successful, involving devices. This is a story that carried me along, despite my finding the characters generally unsympathetic. It's a book I enjoyed, but I have at the moment little motivation to try any more work by Jones.… (more)
Margaret09 | 256 other reviews | Apr 15, 2024 |
A Love Story, the Tale of an American Marriage

Although Tamari Jones has written that this is essentially a love story, it is also a social commentary. But as a love story, it speaks to men and women of all races. In the end, there are relationships in which love is not enough. When tragedy occurs, some relationships cannot survive.
It is also a story about new beginnings, and finding a relationship and a life that truly fits who you are. All things considered, it had a "happy" ending.… (more)
Chrissylou62 | 256 other reviews | Apr 11, 2024 |
What a great book! My only regret is that I have only discovered Tayari Jones recently (thanks to Anne Bogel), and now plan to read all her novels.
This book, set in Atlanta during the child murders,(1979- 1981) explores the effects of these tragic events on the children who lived in the area where the abductions were taking place. I remember the news coverage was horrific and can only imagine how the parents of young children must have feared for their children. Tayari Jones gives voice to the children...so often voiceless but in this novel given authentic feelings and fears.
Tayari Jones puts herself in the novel as a peripheral character, hovering on the outskirts of the story, but mentioned quite a few times... ("someone ought to watch that girl!") in the background, watching the action and obviously taking note.
Each part of the story is narrated by a different child, and each has a heartache that is made more heightened by the surrounding fear and grief.
As one of the students (Octavia) says, " I cried because it seemed like everything good in the world was locked in a box, like a backward Pandora."(p. 253). The box was the coffin of one of the murdered children.
… (more)
Chrissylou62 | 15 other reviews | Apr 11, 2024 |



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